Creeps Actually Give Us the Creeps (and the Chills)

Illustration for article titled Creeps Actually Give Us the Creeps (and the Chills)

Our bodies have many ways of warning us of potential danger, and a new study has discovered a new one that might serve you well when meeting new people. Researchers found that when people are confronted with a person they find creepy, they actually feel cold, often to the point that they experience chills. The researchers believe that what makes these creeps set off our alarm bells is their inability to correctly mimic the nonverbal cues we all give off, like making eye contact and using hand gestures.


In friendly situations, we typically tend to mimic the nonverbal cues another person is sending out. So to study our reaction to this, a researcher went into a room with each of the study's participants. Sometimes they would mimic the participant's gestures. For instance, if the participant touched his nose, the researcher would scratch her head. But other times, the researcher would not mirror the subject's cues. When this happened, the participant's skin crawled and they reported feeling colder. People actually believed the temperature in the room had gone down to 68 degrees when it was still holding at 72. Researchers believe this cold feeling is an early signal to warn us of potential danger from someone who violates social norms. So next time you meet someone and feel a chill, know that it might be your body's way of telling you to high-tail it out of there. Then again, it might just be your body's way of telling you to grab a sweater.

Creepy people literally give us chills, study finds [MSNBC]

Image via Tyler Olson/Shutterstock.



Obligatory mention of The Gift of Fear.

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